When two (or more) genres collide.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

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Have you experienced or witnessed genre shaming, where readers/authors degrade a genre? If so, how do you deal with it?

I’ve been on the receiving end of this, for what I think are some of my better novels. Unfortunately, they fall foul of the genre police. Because of what I’ve had to endure, I sometimes wish that I had never written them, as I find them difficult to justify and impossible to market. Despite a few people who get what I was trying to achieve, I have to ignore a lot of negative feedback and some bad reviews, based on the books perceived failings.

I’m referring to my Andorra Pett series of amateur detective stories. They fall somewhere in between cosy mystery and Sci-fi, that is their downfall. I’m sure that, because they mix several genres, it holds them back.

I honestly thought (hoped) that would be their Unique Selling Point. I reckoned that the mixing of styles would make them appeal to more people.

Instead, it’s the opposite.

The cosy mystery fans don’t like them, because they are set in space and not in a village in rural England or small-town America. The fact that a space station or new colony on Mars is effectively a village seems to be irrelevant. I’ve been told more than once that they are not “proper” cozies, whatever that means?

Then we come to the Sci-fi fans. They don’t like them because (as far as they are concerned), they ARE cosy mystery and lack a lot of the planet crunching action, spaceships, aliens and galaxy-hopping adventure that they have come to expect from Sci-fi. Here, I’ve been told that the Sci-fi element adds nothing to the story, which could (apparently) have been set anywhere.

I guess they mean a village in rural England or small-town America?

The same goes for the fans of crime novels, the other-worldly setting puts them off. As does some of the humour and the fact that they’re upbeat, not bleak and gory, as a lot of trending police/crime stories tend to be.

Not only that, they’ve been called childish and sexist, the covers have even been described as homemade.

In their defence, I’m sure that there will be crime in space, as well as amateur detectives and inept policemen who need help. It seems likely that, once we get out there in any numbers, human nature will be the same as it is now. I’m just tapping into what will probably be.

Whatever, the Andorra Pett series moulders away, bumping along in the lower end of the ratings. The thing is, I can’t stop writing them, even though they are a total waste of time when it comes to sales or K.U. page reads.

If only I knew how to sell them, or could find them an audience who liked them for what they are intended to be. They’re just a bit of entertainment with no deep, subversive meaning or prejudice.

I’ve tried all sorts of advertising, with little success. I’ve had countdown deals and free days. I get lots of downloads when the first book in the series is free (500 last time, in 24 hours), but little positive feedback, which I can only assume means that people are underwhelmed. And readthrough to the second story is almost non-existent. That’s a shame, as I think the later stories are the best ones. As Andorra developed in my head, I saw more of her slightly chaotic life. She became more than just another character and her adventures got a lot more exciting.

Now I’ve told you that, I can get back to writing the sixth in the series (Andorra Pett and the Luna Mining Conspiracy). Based on what has happened to her already, I reckon that there are at least two more possible ideas, plus there is an idea for a potential spin-off series lurking in my mind.

I have no idea what will happen to Andorra in these future adventures, apart from in a general sort of way. All I do know is that the journey will be fun.

Because Andorra Pett is my favourite and, at the end of the day, writing her adventures makes ME happy.

This means that I’ll keep on doing it and see if the reading public ever catches up.

Until next week.

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12 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    Sorry to read you’ve had such negative feedback. Perhaps write a Sci-Fi story and then a separate Cozy Mystery? I write in a variety of genres, but I don’t mix them up.

    • Richard Dee

      I always wanted to write crime stories, in the style of Agatha Raisin or Jonathon Creek. Setting them in space seemed like a good idea for a twist. Now I wish I hadn’t.

  2. Daryl Devore

    WOw – that entire first paragraph could have been written by me. Don’t know whether is it nice not to be the only one – or to have company.
    I love- LOVE – the term genre police. I’ve had several run-ins with them as well.
    Your covers are fabulous.
    Just think about the haters as being jealous.
    Keep doing your thing.

    • Richard Dee

      Thank you, a bit of solidarity is always welcomed. I’m doing this for me and those who want to come with me. If what I do is not for you, never mind, I hope you find what you’re looking for.

  3. P.J. MacLayne

    You are correct in thinking a space station can be considered a village. My mysteries aren’t technically cozies either because I use a limited number of swear words! (clutches pearls)

      • Stephen Bungay

        Purists lack imagination. Story happens, the setting could be anywhere, any time, against any backdrop. mysteries, action adventures, supernatural, or heck, even a western? The damage closed minded fans of fiction are capable of can be summed up in one word, “Firefly”.
        Stay the course.

        • Richard Dee

          Thanks, one day, people might catch up, I live in hope. Browncoats forever!!!

  4. Amy Miller

    I love that, genre police. I play with the genre rules, too, so I get it. I’ve had somebody say they won’t give my books a chance specifically because I didn’t follow the spoken or unspoken guidelines. Stinks to be them.

    Personally, I love genre mashups. I can get bored with the same old stuff. And I agree. I write for me.

    • Richard Dee

      To be made to feel guilty for what you’ve created is a terrible thing, why not mix things up?

  5. Lela Markham

    You could have been writing about my fantasy series. Some of it is my marketing — I really don’t know how to market fantasy (my opinion). It’s not a genre thing. It’s straight up Celtic fantasy. And the few reviews I get are positive. But it languishes because … yeah, I don’t know why.

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